Friday, June 6, 2008

City of Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission

Since the City of Bellingham has not adopted an Ethics Ordinance, citizens have an opportunity to provide City Councilors with input as they draft codes that reflect the values of the residents of Bellingham.

The City of Seattle has taken an extra step to foster public trust in government by adopting an elections campaign code in addition to the ethics code.

In addition, the City of Seattle recently created a task force to study public funding mechanisms for local campaign as provided by a 2008 bill adopted during the 2008 legislative session.

I can't improve on what Seattle has adopted in regards to ethics and campaigns laws, so here are the links and explainations directly from the City's website, in the City's own words.

"The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission and staff administer the City's Code of Ethics and the Elections Campaign Code, publish the City's voters' pamphlets, administer the City's Lobbying Regulations, and investigate certain complaints of improper governmental action under the City's whistleblower protection ordinance.

In the Ethics section of this site you will find information on the ethics law and rules that apply to City of Seattle employees. This section also contains answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding the City's ethics rules.

In the Elections section of this site you will find the financial disclosure reports of Seattle election campaigns past and present, the City's public disclosure regulations, electronic filing instructions, and the City's voters' pamphlets.

The Lobbying section introduces new legislation that requires people who are paid to lobby City government to report certain information.

In the Whistleblower section of this site you will find a copy of the City's Whistleblower Protection law, as well as procedures for City employees to use for filing a Whistleblower complaint.

The Commission section includes information about current Commissioners, our Administrative Rules and Procedures, and Meeting schedule, agendas, minutes, and media advisories."

One of the missions of The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission is to administer, interpret and enforce the Seattle Code of Ethics, Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 4.16. (SMC 4.16).

The Code provides a minimum standard of conduct for all City officers and employees, including elected or appointed officials and paid or unpaid members of City boards and commissions.

The Code does not apply to members of Public Development Corporations or ad hoc advisory committees.

The Commission conducts investigations into allegations of unethical conduct, such as use of facilities for private gain, use of position for private benefit, and conflicts of interest in performing official duties.

The Commission's resources are also used to interpret the Code and to explain it to City officials and employees and to the public. Commission staff gives advice in response to specific questions and provides guidance for future activities. An annotated index of Commission Advisory Opinions can be found here. The annotations are listed by subject.

To read the entire Code, visit the City Clerk's web site.
Seattle Code of Ethics, SMC 4.16

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